I’m writing this on the infamous Black Friday. Even the name itself gives way to impending doom. It’s the one day of year I purposefully avoid the shopping malls, restaurants, retailers, you name it. In fact, I prefer to hole up in our home rather than brave the masses of anxious, angry, and eager shoppers on a mission.

I find it a self-fulfilling prophecy, then, that so many people dread the Christmas holiday. If we begin it with anxiety and consumerism, why would we celebrate the rest of the season with inner tranquility and harmony among friends? But author Diane M. Houdek understands this conundrum and still she wrote another gem for the liturgical season of Christmas to pierce the heart with quiet joy and the calm we all crave.

The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections from Pope Francis is a little book you can pick up without feeling pressured to do a specific daily reading. It’s there to feed your soul when you are overwhelmed, in the moments you find yourself exhausted, or even when you are moved by the Holy Spirit to discover the grace of the season.

As I opened the first pages and read the introduction, I felt that Houdek was offering the insights from Pope Francis she had collected as a personal Christmas gift to me. She prefaced the book in such a way that the reader feels she is journeying with him or her. And each reflection is according to theme, not “First Day of Christmas” or “Epiphany.” Houdek wrote that she wants the book to be read in an atmosphere of stillness and solitude, not out of a rushed attitude of “getting something else done” for the day.

So enter into the Christmas season with this spiritual accompaniment that will soothe the first inklings of anxiety and fear that Black Friday seem to dangle in your face. You’ll remember that every gift, every deal, every party or special dish is all peripheral to spending time with the Infant Jesus. Babies remind us that the primary need of all people is to be loved and cherished. So take some time to sit a while with the Christ Child and just love Him.

Text (c) Jeannie Ewing 2017, all rights reserved.